I have always considered myself an independent designer, a lone wolf of sorts, so when I discovered that as part of my ongoing creative practice I was required to be part of a group made up of both Textile and Product Designers, I had immediate reservations.
My initial thought was ‘Please don’t land me with the duds’. I met my group and soon realised that we possessed a range of skills unique to each and every one of us, so began by asking how each member felt about working on specific elements within the collaboration. I think my age and life experience made me the perfect candidate for the Project Manager, something which the rest of the group were happy to delegate.
One of the most positive aspects of this collaboration for me personally was the chance to learn more of the technical and mathematical process of Product Design and how it could be married to my discipline of Textile Design. I will admit that at first I didn’t particularly find the group chemistry strong, and the difficulty to make decisions caused friction at times. However, as time went on we quickly fell into the specific roles needed to successfully carry out our challenging concept and idea.
I have always understood that to get something done properly there is little time to procrastinate but rather put together a plan of action that is both concurrently manageable and challenging.
As the concept developed and ideas were shared, I found at times the communication from the Product Design lacked the necessary vision for us to work as a cohesive unit, leading to some heated emails and verbal exchanges, but nevertheless we eventually agreed on the common denominator to work as a team to create something which would be both technically and aesthetically impressive.
What did I learn about myself? I felt comfortable as a natural leader within the group; that’s not to mean I dictated the orders but rather found out the individual strengths of each team member and interwove them altogether to create a creative and highly efficient way of working.
The group did not become friends but gained a mutual respect for each other, which I believe is important if I am ever to collaborate with another designer/discipline in the foreseeable future.
If I was to reflect on the brief as a whole I would have to say that it wasn’t particularly organised or structured as efficiently as it could have been. The Textile Tutors were rarely to be seen and any support that was asked for was nearly always given by the Product Design tutors. Luckily I am always ready/happy to work independently but felt a true element of wandering through the wilderness within this project. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy elements of the brief; the ability to self explore and learn new skills and ways of thinking really enriched my creative practice and thought process. The range of materials used and how each was fused together to create a finished product gave me greater respect for how time consuming but ultimately rewarding a collaborative effort can be.
I loved our final design; the beautifully abstract Textile Pattern created by Saima and I really contrasted masterfully against the sleek and classic triangular shape of the Light. I grew not only as an individual, but as a creative practitioner too. Each project has allowed me to refine my individual style, I now feel confident to showcase my focused and strengthened visual identity in any project I undertake.